Coping with stuff you didn’t expect, and want to run from, is hard!
When we least expect it, stuff happens. Our holiday goes down the tube, our house gets burgled, our freezer full of yummy food for the party fails, or worse, COVID-19 strikes! Coping with the uncertainty of COVID-19 and what it will bring seems to be causing more anxiety than the actual virus itself.
When uncertainty crawls into our lives we often get really frustrated and our minds go into overdrive. We hit the panic button letting our brain go haywire with a million questions, which we want answers for now. It sounds trite and unhelpful for someone on the other side of the world like me to say ‘put everything in your head on hold, it’s going to work out’. But it’s true. It will work out.
What is happening for you is not normal. It’s far from normal. It’s hard, it’s upsetting, it’s disruptive and it’s stressful. But it will pass. We need to keep reminding ourselves that ‘this too will pass’.
It doesn’t matter if you are at home trying to school your children or at home trying to teach your class, eventually, it will pass and we can all go back to ‘normal’. The uncertainty about how long it will go on for and the fall out from it all can be very difficult for some people to cope with.
It’s normal to be frustrated and annoyed at the situation but try as best as you can to be positive around your children. After all this is a learning experience for them about coping. When things start to go off track and everyone hits the wall take a break.
Take some time and ask the children to write a list of their positives and negatives around the situation. Realise that most of the negatives in these kinds of situations tend to be around the uncertainty of it all. Talk to each one of them about their lists. If you have little ones remember to get down to their level (e.g when you’re not going to school you’ll be able to teach teddy your lessons too).
Now deal to your own list. Remember as you deal with each item, think carefully about it, and think about how it may work out. Focus on what you can control, which is most often what will happen just today and tomorrow, as things with COVID-19 are fluid and seem to change quickly.
Once you recognise that much of the difficulty and anxiety is based on uncertainty it might make it easier to put that all aside and work on what you do have control over. Explain to the kids about the uncertainty around the situation and how it is difficult to plan. Have the children help you plan for what you ‘can’ plan for, even if it’s only what you are having for dinner tonight.
If you can see some positive light in the mess, give yourself a hug, or ask for a hug, then relax and take some time out! Enjoy the slower pace of everything. Take time and appreciate you have time to do things you are normally too busy for.
Uncertainty is difficult for a lot of people so you are not alone. Remember, this too will pass.
Margaret Dick is an ex-expat from NZ and has worked as an Educational Psychologist for 20 years, 7 of which were as an expat working in international schools in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. She has an MEd. along with a PGDipEdPsych.